Saturday, 28 February 2009

Orchestras , Speeches , Ray and James

The view from my 6th floor hotel room was stunning . Across Tiger Bay , Cardiff, looking towards the new Millennium Centre and Symphony Hall and the Welsh Assembly.The Welsh mountains in the glorious background ,. Uplifting. And a Spa and fantastic breakfast too. Now what , you may ask am I doing in cardiff ? Well , speaking at the annual Conference of the Association of British Orchestras . Obviously.

Mark Pemberton , their CEO , is a member . ACEVO has a large arts and culture membership . It is sometimes forgotten that the arts form an important part of our wonderfully diverse sector . We even have a special interest group of the members who meeter to talk common problems. SoIi chair a panel session and talk about the opportunities of a recession for the work of orchestras and musicians , if they think out of the box . The therapeutic effect of music for health , in working with youth at risk is well known . We need more of this as unemployment bites.I remind them that once I chaired an Orchestra;the City of Oxford Orchestra as it happens . Not sure how well, but at least it is still going.

I stay on for drinks at the Welsh Assembly , in a brilliantly designed building , and then onto the Opera ; Salome given by the Welsh National Opera. I have a great seat , though I could not admit to having followed all the Opera as I had a few Chief Executive somnolent moments.

Back on the train for lunch , yes you guessed it , at The Cinnamon Club ,( suggestions that I ever dine in McDonalds are entirely wrong ) With an old friend, Ray Collins . I met Ray in 1976 when I left my tedious job as a civil servant to become Jack Jones's Research Officer at the TGWU in Transport House . Ray was a callow youth in the Education Department . And hasn't he done well ; for he is now the Geberal Secretary of the Labour Party ! So a lunch of salacious gossip and delicious intrigue . No mention of money or peerages , let me be clear. He goes off to expel a peer from the labour Party and I return to do a speech at The Guardian Weekly in their swanky new HQ.

I am speaking with the great Liz Atkins of NCVO and the charming Beth Breeze of all things philanthropic . I end up in almost total agreement with Liz , but not with Beth , who seems to be taking a somewhat strange, " crisis , what crisis " approach to out present travails . There is also a banker speaking. Its almost too cruel to have a go but I do have a pop at the way big business think they are so generous when they allow staff out to volunteer in charities. These days I reckon we all need to go and do some volunteering in the banks . Educate them into the ways of the world where a good salary does not mean something with 6 noughts on the end .

I give a preview of my lecture which I am giving at Deloitte on Tuesday . And you will also be able to read a thought provoking article in the Guardian Society on Wednesday . And shortly you will also be able to see the informal report I produced for James Purnell. I saw him on Thursday . A great meeting. He is a real star.I will carry on doing work on some of the ideas I have put forward . He apologised for not being able to come to my Lecture. He said he had to be with a certain Royal ! As unemployment rises the role the sector will play becomes crucial . James recognises this. We can do business together. And we will .

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